Deep Teeth Cleaning
The initial stage of treatment for periodontal disease is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling or root planing. The objective of these non-surgical procedures is to remove etiologic agents such as dental plaque and tartar, or calculus, which cause gingival inflammation and disease. Scaling and root planing can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or a preventative measure. They are commonly performed on cases of gingivitis and moderate to severe periodontal disease.
What Do the Procedures Entail?
Dr. Detmer or Dr. Cara will only perform scaling and root planing after a thorough examination of the mouth, which may include taking x-rays and visually examining the mouth. Depending on the condition of the gums, the amount of tartar present, the depth of the pockets, and the progression of periodontitis, Drs. Detmer or Cara may recommend scaling and root planing. In a lot of cases, a local anesthesia may be used during the procedure for patient comfort due to plaque and calculus buildup under the irritated gum tissue.
When scaling is performed, calculus and plaque that attaches to the tooth surfaces is removed. The process especially targets the area below the gum line, along the root. Scaling is performed with a special dental tool called an ultrasonic scaling tool. The scaling tool usually includes an irrigation process that can be used to flush out the calculus and deliver an antimicrobial agent below the gums to help reduce oral bacteria.
Root planing is performed in order to remove cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with unwanted microorganisms, toxins and tartar. The root of the tooth is literally smoothed, which promotes healing, and also helps prevent bacteria from easily colonizing in the future that causes bone loss.
Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, Drs. Detmer or Cara may place antibiotic fibers in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.
When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for Drs. Detmer or Cara to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. In some cases, referral to a Periodontist who specializes in the tooth’s supporting structures may be indicated in order to look into options such as gum grafts or surgery to help prevent even further loss of bone and gum attachment and support.
Benefits of Treatment
If treatment is successful, scaling and planing may have many periodontal benefits. One is that it can help prevent disease. Research has proven that bacteria from periodontal infections can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body, sometimes causing heart and respiratory diseases. The same bacteria found in these deep pockets in periodontal disease are found in cardiovascular diseases that cause thickening of arteries and even strokes. Scaling and root planing remove bacteria that cause these conditions.
Another benefit of treatment is protecting teeth against tooth loss. When gum pockets exceed 3mm in depth, the risk for periodontal disease increases. As pockets deepen, more bacteria are able to accumulate, eventually causing a chronic inflammatory response by the body to destroy gingival and bone tissue. This leads to bone loss, then tooth mobility, and finally tooth loss.
Finally, scaling and root planing may make the mouth more aesthetically pleasing, and should reduce bad breath caused from food particles and bacteria in the oral cavity. Superficial stains on the teeth will be removed during scaling and planing, adding an extra bonus to the procedures.